This sweetener is a high potency artificial sweetener. In the United States, for several years Acesulfame-K was permitted only in such foods as sugar-free baked goods, chewing gum, and gelatin desserts. It is about 200 times sweeter than sugar, and is typically used together in products with sucralose (another toxic additive). In July 1998, the FDA allowed this chemical to be used in soft drinks and supplements like protein powsers, thereby greatly increasing consumer exposure. It is often used together with sucralose.
Even compared to aspartame and saccharin (which are afflicted with their own safety problems), Acesulfame K is the worst. The additive is inadequately tested, in the 1970's the FDA based its approval on tests of Acesulfame K that fell short of the FDA's own standards. Two studies carried out in rats and one in mice indicated that the additive might cause cancer in lab animals, which means it may increase cancer risk in humans. It may also cause blood sugar attacks and has shown to elevate cholesterol in lab animals. In addition, large doses of acetoacetamide, a breakdown product, have been shown to affect the thyroid in rats, rabbits, and dogs.
For these reasons, in l987, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) urged the FDA not to approve Acesulfame K, but was ignored. After the FDA gave the chemical its blessing, CSPI urged that it be banned. In 1996 the CSPI urged the FDA to require better testing before permitting acesulfame-K in soft drinks. That request has also been ignored.
Aspartame has been the subject of controversy since it first became an ingredient in food products in 1981. Made from a chemical combination of two amino acids and methanol, a chemist working for the G.D. Searle Company accidentally discovered aspartame while he was testing for a drug to treat ulcers. He got some of the substance on his finger, and then accidentally touched his finger to his mouth. When the substance was found to be sweet tasting, the company realized that it could be more lucrative as a food additive than as a limited-market ulcer drug. Soon, nearly every commercially produced sugar-free food and drink was laced with it. Next, it became available for home and restaurant use in those little blue packets.
Aspartame was initially thought to be the perfect artificial sweetener, but it is now linked to cancer and other neurological problems. Available literature on aspartame use reveals that over the years more and more indications have arisen that suggest that the public is at great risk through its continued use.
Early testing of aspartame was wrought with results showing that it was not safe to consume. A 1970's study suggested that aspartame caused brain tumors in rats. However, the Food and Drug Administration persuaded an independent review panel to reverse its conclusion that aspartame was unsafe, and it was approved for food use by the FDA in 1982.
Since then, seventy-five percent of complaints to the FDA about food reactions pertain to Aspartame. The FDA once listed 92 different symptoms associated with the use of NutraSweet. Symptoms confirmed through controlled studies include headaches/migraines, weight gain, dizziness, confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, depression, irritability, anxiety attacks, tingling and numbness, convulsions, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, diarrhea, aggravation of diabetes, menstrual problems, joint pain, decreased vision, eye pain, ear ringing, noise intolerance, hyperactivity in children, and excessive thirst. In 1995, the FDA stopped reporting aspartame reactions.
The California Environmental Protection Agency and others have urged that independent scientists conduct new animal studies to resolve the cancer question. In 2005, researchers at the Ramazzini Foundation in Bologna, Italy, conducted the first such study. It indicated that rats first exposed to aspartame at eight weeks of age caused lymphomas and leukemias in females. However, the European Food Safety Authority reviewed the study and concluded that the tumors probably occurred just by chance.
In 2007, the same Italian researchers published a follow-up study that began exposing rats to aspartame in utero. This study found that aspartame caused leukemias/lymphomas and mammary (breast) cancer. It is likely that the new studies found problems that earlier company-sponsored studies did not because the Italian researchers monitored the rats for three years instead of two.
Besides the carcinogenic effects, other serious health issues are linked to aspartame consumption. George Schwartz, M.D., a trauma surgeon and the author of In Bad Taste: the MSG Syndrome states, "Diet drinks with aspartame release small amounts of methanol when the aspartame is broken down through digestion in the small intestine. It is well documented that methanol interrupts the retina and optic nerve transmissions and causes visual problems. Even though the FDA has thousands of cases of visual disturbances on record from individuals drinking too many diet drinks with aspartame, there have been no formal, unbiased, scientific studies done.
In the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Donald R. Johns reported what appeared to be a connection between a case of migraine and the consumption of large amounts of a beverage containing NutraSweetâ„¢. A thirty-one-year-old woman with a known history of well-controlled migraine headaches began drinking six to eight 12-ounce cans of diet cola sweetened with NutraSweet, 15 tablets of aspartame, and other foods containing aspartame (approximately 100 to 1500 mg) daily. About two hours after ingesting the drinks, she noticed stomach upset and a throbbing headache. When taken off aspartame, she noticed steady improvement and eventually the headaches disappeared altogether.1
In the May 1988 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, two letters appeared from the following physicians regarding headaches and aspartame. In the first, Dr. Richard B. Lipton and coworkers at the Montefiore Headache Unit reported that, in their studies using 171 patients, 8.2 percent of the patients who had headaches were sensitive to aspartame. They found that stress and tension also trigger migraines and other headaches. Dr. Lipton concluded that "sufferers of migraines or other vascular headaches should be warned to avoid NutraSweet." If you are a person who suffers headaches from low blood sugar levels, you also should avoid excitotoxins, including aspartame, because they aggravate hypoglycemia."4
The bottom line is that lifelong consumption of aspartame probably increases the risk of cancer as well as other serious health issues. Young children are especially vulnerable as the breakdown products of aspartame are much more damaging to their developing bodies and brains. People should not consume any foods and beverages sweetened with aspartame, or any other artificial sweeteners. All of them have been linked to a risk of cancer.
Most artificial colorings are synthetic chemicals that do not occur in nature. They are used almost exclusively in processed foods, particularly candy, soda pop, breakfast cereals, gelatin desserts, and others. Studies show that artificial colors may be carcinogenic and may contribute to learning disorders, visual disorders, and nerve damage. In addition to other problems, recent studies show colorings cause hyperactivity in some sensitive children.
In general, you should avoid any additive with a number after it, and all artificial colors have either a number or a letter after them.
The following health risks are associated with the below listed artificial colors. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has petitioned the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to remove them from the nation's food supply:
Authorities in the United Kingdom banned these six of these eight artificial colors in response to research linking the consumption of those additives and hyperactive behavior.
Studies in 2004 and 2007 conducted by researchers at the University of Southampton concluded that specific mixtures of artificial colors increase hyperactivity in certain children. Based on these findings, the United Kindgom's Food Standards Agency (FSA) determined there was enough evidence to recommend a ban on six food dyes, calling for their removal from all food and drink products in the United Kingdom by the end of 2009. Since the ban was enacted, the food industry has responded positively, replacing banned colors with natural pigments in products.
However, many of these same products are still sold in the United States using the original artificial food colors. The USFDA still claims they are safe, but consumer advocate groups disagree. In 2008 the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petitioned the FDA to remove eight artificial colors from the nation's food supply: Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3 and Yellow 6. The CSPI maintains that all artificial colors should be avoided and that eliminating them from the food supply is the most effective public health approach.
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Butylated hydroxyanisole and the related compound butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are synthetic (man-made) compounds that are often added to foods to prevent fats and oils from going rancid.
BHA and BHT are used in bacon, baked goods, breakfast bars, candy, canned fruits and vegetables, cream and creamers, fried foods, gelatin desserts, margarine, roasted nuts, peanut butter, powdered soups, salad dressings, shortening, spices, whipped topping, chewing gum, potato chips, the ubiquitous ingredient "vegetable oil," and foods containing artificial color or flavor. These chemicals prevent the color, flavor, or texture changes that occur when foods are exposed to air. They are also used as fillers in vitamin and mineral supplements.
You may also find it disturbing that these same chemicals are also used for the same purposes in cosmetics, pharmaceutical drugs, rubber & petroleum products, jet fuels, and embalming fluids.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer considers BHA and BHT carcinogenic. Repeated studies agree that BHA and BHT increase the risk of cancer, accumulate in body tissue, cause liver enlargement, and retard cell development.
While some studies indicate BHA is safe, other repeated studies agree that it causes cancer in rats, mice, and hamsters. Those cancers are controversial because they occur in the forestomach of these animals, an organ that humans do not have. However, a chemical that causes cancer in at least one organ in three different species indicates that it might be carcinogenic in humans. That is why the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers BHA to be "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen." Nevertheless, the Food and Drug Administration still permits BHA to be used in foods.
Some experts believe that consumption of BHT can cause metabolism problems leading to behavior changes. Dr. Benjamin Feingold, a diet specialist in the 1970's stated from his studies that BHT could produce hyperactivity in children. In light of this, it interesting that many of the foods that are mainly consumed by children, including breakfast cereals, convenient lunch box meals, and snack foods all contain BHA and BHT.
Author and doctor Christine Hoza Farlow states in her book Food Additives - A Shopper's Guide to What's Safe & What's Not that BHA and BHT can cause liver and kidney damage, behavioral problems, infertility, weakened immune system, birth defects, and cancer. Infants, young children, pregnant women and those sensitive to aspirin should avoid them.
BHT has been banned in England. It has also been banned in Romania, Sweden, Australia and nearly every other country except for the U.S.
1. Chemical Cuisine, Center for Science in the Public Interest, http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm#bha
2. Feingold Association of the United States. http://www.feingold.org/overview.php
3. Hoza-Farlow, Christine, D.C. Food Additives. A Shopper's Guide to What's Safe and What's Not (KISS For Health Publishing: California, 2004).
High Fructose Corn Syrup
The dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) are numerous. Over the last decade, the goopy liquid has been labeled "the crack of sweeteners" due to its addictive qualities and its impact on the health of Americans. Most likely owing to the wildly unnatural 15-step chemical process that converts a mild mannered corn kernel into what has recently been dubbed "liquid Satan", the evidence of its insidious ramifications on the health of Americans continues to mount.
Research presented at the March 2010 American Heart Association's Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention annual conference in San Francisco revealed that over the last decade, consumption of sugary soft drinks contributed to 130,000 new cases of diabetes, 14,000 new cases of heart disease and 50,000 more life-years burdened with heart disease in the last decade. The study focused on adults age 35 and older.
One plausible explanation for the findings of the study is that the increased incidence of cardiovascular problems is due to a rising incidence of diabetes, while an increase in obesity might also be responsible.
Diabetes is, after all, a disease related to the consumption and metabolism of sugar in the diet. So it's really the sweetener that is the primary culprit. And while the study focused mainly on sweetened soda consumption, let's not forget that Americans are also slurping and chowing down massive amounts of HFCS in coffee drinks, milkshakes, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices, breads, ice cream, sauces, soups, and even French fries. Additionally, HFCS has become the ubiquitous ingredient in nearly all processed foods-and recent statistics reveal that ninety percent of the money Americans spend on food goes toward purchasing processed foods. That's an enormous amount of HFCS.
More than one scientific article has documented that since 1980, obesity and diabetes rates have climbed at a rate remarkably similar to that of HFCS consumption. From 1980 to 2000, the incidence of obesity doubled. Concurrently, per capita consumption of HFCS in sodas (Super Big Gulp, anyone?) increased by more than 1,000 percent from 1970 to 1990.
Mercury In Your Soda Pop
Over the last decade, numerous studies have shown the controversial sweetener contributes to the development of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, overweight and obesity. Besides being derived from corn, the vast majority of which is genetically modified (genetically modified foods are health hazard in their own right), HFCS also contains detectable levels of mercury.
According to a 2009 study published in Environmental Health, almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup contained mercury. A separate study conducted by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a non-profit watchdog group, found that nearly one in three of 55 brand-name breads, cereals, sodas and other foods "bought off the shelf in the autumn of 2008" contained mercury. The chemical was found most commonly in HFCS-containing dairy products (like yogurt and ice cream), salad dressings and condiments (like ketchup) where HFCS is the first or second highest labeled ingredient.
How did the mercury get into the HFCS? In the process that converts corn into the liquid sweetener, caustic soda (otherwise known as lye) is one ingredient used to separate cornstarch from the corn kernel. Apparently most caustic soda for years has been produced in industrial chlorine plants, where it can be contaminated with mercury that it passes on to the HFCS, and then to consumers. Mercury is a potent brain toxin that accumulates in fish and seafood, and now apparently is in our soda, yogurt, and breads.
Call it What You Will, HFCS Is Still Worse Than Sugar
Since being "outed" as a dangerous sweetener, consumption of high fructose corn syrup in 2010 is at a 20-year low, and will likely continue to decline, despite the marketing efforts and claims by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) that it is the same as all other forms of sugar. Completely ignoring the mercury claims, the CRA refuses to give up its hold on the sweetener market. In a last ditch desperate attempt to convince consumers that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is safe, the CRA is now petitioning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow it to change the name of HFCS to "corn sugar." As if changing the name is going to somehow change the minds of conscious consumers and erase the scientific evidence of its insidious ramifications on the health of Americans.
Even though approval of the name change could take two years, the CRA has already started using the term in its new online marketing campaign and on television. Just as they have done in the past, the new commercials try to clarify shopper confusion, depicting people who say they now "understand" that "whether it's corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can't tell the difference. Sugar is sugar."
According to the CRA, high fructose corn syrup is safe and does not have any higher level of fructose when compared to refined white sugar, honey or fruit juice concentrates. High fructose corn syrup is half glucose and half fructose, just like white sugar is. Despite the evidence to the contrary, the CRA continues to assert that the body metabolizes HFCS in the same way as regular white sugar. This assertion is reminiscent of how the manufacturers of DDT claimed the pesticide was safe right up to the day it was banned.
But high fructose corn syrup is different from other forms of sugar, natural or refined, and your body does know the difference!
White sugar comes primarily from sugar cane or sugar beets. High-fructose corn syrup is made essentially by soaking corn kernels to extract cornstarch, and using enzymes to turn the glucose in the starch into fructose and is then mixed with regular corn syrup (100% glucose). Although white sugar and HFCS may contain similar concentrations of sucrose and fructose, the CRA's claim that HFCS contains a similar ratio of fructose and sucrose does not take into account the difference in how the fructose and sucrose are chemically bonded together. Chemical bonding is an important factor in this case.
In cane sugar, beet sugar, honey, and fruit juice, the glucose and fructose are linked together by a chemical bond, and the body uses them as one individual component called sucrose. In HFCS the fructose is not bonded to glucose, they exist as two individual "free" components in the syrup, which unfortunately produce deleterious results in the human body.
The consumption of high amounts of "free, unbonded" fructose, such as the amounts being added to foods and beverages, overwhelms the body's capacity to metabolize it. Fructose and glucose are metabolized differently in the body. Glucose is metabolized in every cell of the body to be converted to energy, however all fructose must be metabolized in the liver. Too much fructose in the liver turns to fat. Too much fat in the liver leads to liver diseases. A recent study out of Duke University showed that daily consumption of fructose-containing foods or drinks has been associated with a disease called Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.
In the February 26, 2010 online issue of the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, a research team from the Princeton University Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute published study results from two experiments investigating the link between the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup and obesity. The study results clearly show that HFCS and regular sugars are not equal when it comes to weight gain.
According to Princeton University article:
The first study showed that male rats given water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup in addition to a standard diet of rat chow gained much more weight than male rats that received water sweetened with table sugar, or sucrose, in conjunction with the standard diet. The concentration of sugar in the sucrose solution was the same as is found in some commercial soft drinks, while the high-fructose corn syrup solution was half as concentrated as most sodas.
The second experiment -- the first long-term study of the effects of high-fructose corn syrup consumption on obesity in lab animals -- monitored weight gain, body fat and triglyceride levels in rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup over a period of six months. Compared to animals eating only rat chow, rats on a diet rich in high-fructose corn syrup showed characteristic signs of a dangerous condition known in humans as the metabolic syndrome, including abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides and augmented fat deposition, especially visceral fat around the belly. Male rats in particular ballooned in size: Animals with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained 48 percent more weight than those eating a normal diet.
"These rats aren't just getting fat; they're demonstrating characteristics of obesity, including substantial increases in abdominal fat and circulating triglycerides," said Princeton graduate student Miriam Bocarsly. "In humans, these same characteristics are known risk factors for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes."6
Here's why. The manufacturing of HFCS starts with corn kernels and takes place in a series of stainless steel vats and tubes in which a dozen different mechanical processes and chemical reactions occur-including several rounds of high velocity spinning and the introduction of three different enzymes to incite molecular rearrangements not found anywhere in nature. It's that difference that is the crux of the problem.
When we eat refined white sugar, as bad as it may be for us, our body at least knows what it is and how to handle it. In normal sugar metabolism, the fructose is broken down in the digestive tract and processed in the cells. Once this occurs, the cells send a signal to the brain, which stimulates the pancreas to secrete a hormone called insulin. Insulin is then used by the body to convert the sugar into energy. Any excess sugar that does not get converted to energy goes to the liver to be stored as fat. That is why, if you eat too much sugar, you get fat.
Because of its altered molecular structure, the body doesn't know what to do with HFCS. It does not get metabolized the same way that sugar does, in fact it doesn't really get metabolized at all. When we eat HFCS, the cells do not send a signal to the brain, therefore the pancreas does not secrete insulin. As a result, the sugar (fructose) does not get converted into energy, and goes directly to the liver to be stored as fat. This large glut of sugar turning to fat has been linked to fatty liver disease (a condition where the liver is literally choked by fat globules and cannot perform its normal detoxifying and fat burning functions), elevated levels of triglycerides and high cholesterol. High triglycerides in the body are linked to heart disease and diabetes. HFCS also lowers chromium levels in the body, further increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Food manufacturers are slowly beginning to replace HFCS in their products by reverting back to using "real sugar" (and proudly touting that in its advertising). The "real sugar" they are using is refined cane sugar or beet sugar, which has its own set of health consequences, and should not be considered healthy in any way, shape or form.
The bonded forms of sucrose and fructose from sugar cane or sugar beets has been a part of the human diet for centuries; the bonded forms of sucrose and fructose from fruit or raw honey has been a part of the human diet for millennia. They are balanced by many nutrients that help the body process the sugars properly. But processed and refined forms of sugar are bad news. Especially high fructose corn syrup.
1. Fredrix, Emily. Associated Press. Food Inc. on msnbc.com, High Fructose Corn Syrup, By Any Other Name: Corn Syrup Producers Want Sweeter Name, Corn Sugar, To Help Boost Sales, September 14, 2010, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39169416/ns/business-consumer_news/
2. Hatfield, Leslie. Our Melamine: There's Mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup, and the FDA Has Known for Years. The Huffington Post, February 27, 2009,
3. Health Day. Medline Plus-A Service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_96072.html
4. Huff, Ethan. Corn Refiners Association wants to change name of high fructose corn syrup to "corn sugar." Natural News.com, Wednesday, September 15, 2010, http://www.naturalnews.com/029748_high_fructose_corn_syrup_sugar.html
5. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, M.D., associate professor, medicine, University of California, San Francisco; Robert H. Eckel, professor, medicine, University of Colorado, Denver; March 5, 2010, presentation, American Heart Association's Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention annual conference, San Francisco
6. Parker, Hilary. A Sweet Problem: Princeton Researchers Find That High-Fructose Corn Syrup Prompts Considerably More Weight Gain. Princeton University, News at Princeton, March 22, 2010, http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/
7. The Washington Post. Study Finds High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury. Washington Post.com, Wednesday, January 28, 2009, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2009/01/26/AR2009012601831.html
8. White, John S. High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): Everything You Wanted to Know, but Were Afraid to Ask, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.25825B Vol. 88, No. 6, 1716S-1721S, December 2008, http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/88/6/1716S
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
One of the most common and harmful food additives is monosodium glutamate or MSG. MSG has been called the nicotine of food additives because, in addition to its harmful effects on the body, it is highly addictive. Comprised of sodium and glutamic acid, MSG is a flavor enhancer that triggers our taste buds and makes us eat more and eat faster. Nearly every fast food and chain restaurant uses MSG in some form, and it is added to thousands of prepared and processed foods. The foods that contain the most MSG are processed fat-free foods and sugar-free foods, mainly because when fat and sugar are absent, the food is nearly flavorless, so MSG is added to enhance their flavor.
Use of MSG has doubled every decade since it was first introduced to the United States in the 1940s, and in 2001, three billion pounds were manufactured. It is used in hospitals, nursing homes, school cafeterias, and everywhere else food is served. MSG is found in everything from ketchup, soups, and mashed potatoes to chips and ice cream. Most sauces, dressings, canned soups, and seasoning products like bullion and broth contain MSG or free glutamic acid, a similar product. It is the main ingredient in additives called "seasonings."3
MSG belongs to a class of compounds called "excito-toxins," meaning it upsets the delicate balance of various chemicals in the brain that help regulate many functions. Specifically, it affects the normal appetite mechanism that controls how much we eat. It excites and stimulates the taste buds on our tongues, fooling our brain to think the food tastes better than it actually does. This allows food manufacturers to use cheaper quality ingredients yet allow the cheap food to seem to taste good. Because MSG affects the mechanism in our brain that tells us to stop eating, we eat far beyond our normal stopping point. The substance is also known to be toxic.
MSG Causes Headaches and Obesity
The effects of MSG were first documented in 1968 when a Chinese doctor developed numbness, tingling and tightness in his chest after eating in certain Chinese restaurants. This is why so many Chinese and other restaurants now boast that they don't use MSG. But don't be fooled by those claims. While the restaurant may not add any MSG to their food, if they are using prepared items (as most restaurants do) like sauces, egg rolls, dressings, and broths, then their food will still contain plenty of MSG.
Another common MSG-related symptom is a headache that feels like a tight band around the head. But the most alarming effect of MSG is its link to obesity. Scientists have observed that animals fed glutamic acid become grotesquely obese. No strain of rat or mice is naturally obese, so in laboratories scientists feed MSG to them in order to induce obesity and pre-diabetes. The MSG triples the amount of insulin the pancreas creates, causing rats to become obese; they even have a title for the race of fat rodents they create: "MSG-Treated Rats."
When the rats eat foods containing MSG, they eat more than they need to. If the lab rats are getting grotesquely obese from eating MSG, doesn't it make sense that humans are too?
1. Hoza-Farlow, Christine, D.C. Food Additives. A Shopper's Guide to What's Safe and What's Not (KISS For Health Publishing: California, 2004).
2. Tuormaa, Tuula, E. "The Adverse Effects of Food Additives on Health." 1994, 4.
3. Wilson, Lawrence. "Food Additives." 5. Arizona Networking News, December/January 2005, 1-2.
Potassium Bromate, also known as Bromic Acid or Potassium Salt
Potassium bromate is an oxidizing agent that has been used as a food additive, mainly in the bread-making process. It is commonly added to increase volume in white flour, breads, and rolls.
Potassium bromate is known to cause cancer in animals-and even small amounts in bread can create a risk for humans. Bromate has been banned from use in food products virtually worldwide except in Japan and the United States, but California requires a cancer warning on the product label if potassium bromate is an ingredient, and it can indeed be found in many baked goods.
In 1999, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to ban bromate. Since then, numerous millers and bakers have stopped using bromate.
1. Chemical Cuisine, Center for Science in the Public Interest, http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm#potassiumbromate
2. Hoza-Farlow, Christine, D.C. Food Additives. A Shopper's Guide to What's Safe and What's Not (KISS For Health Publishing: California, 2004).
3. Kurokawa, Y., Maekawa, A., Takahashi, M., and Hayashi, Y. Toxicity and Carcinogenicity of Potassium Bromate--A New Renal Carcinogen., Environmental Health Perspectives, July 1990; 87: 309-335. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/instance/1567851/
Partially Hydrogenated Oil and Hydrogenated Oils, also known as Trans-Fats
Trans fats are made through a process called "hydrogenation." The process of hydrogenation turns a polyunsaturated natural oil, which is normally liquid and fragile at room temperature, into a fat that is more solid and stable at room temperature. The result is an unnatural fat that looks, tastes and behaves like the saturated fats-butter and tropical oils-it was designed to replace. The margarines and vegetable shortenings (Crisco, for example) people have been eating for the last 30 years contain trans fats.
To produce trans fats, manufacturers begin with the cheapest oil soy, corn, cottonseed or canola, already rancid from the extraction process and mix them with a metal catalyst, usually tiny metal particles of nickel oxide. This oil-nickel mixture is then subjected to hydrogen gas in a high-pressure, high-temperature reactor. Next, soap-like substances, called emulsifiers, and starch are squeezed into the mixture to give it a better consistency; the oil is yet again subjected to high temperatures when it is steam-cleaned. This removes its unpleasant odor. At this point the color of the oil is an unappetizing gray (unbecoming of anything we'd want to spread on our toast), so the gray color is removed by bleach. Dyes and strong artificial flavors must then be added to the oil to make it look and taste like butter (they do such a good job of it that manufacturers were able to come up with gimmicky names like "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"). Finally, the mixture is compressed and packaged in blocks or tubs and for many years was sold as a healthy alternative to real butter!
Prior to the 2006 FDA ruling that required manufacturers to list trans fat counts on nutrition fact panels, Americans were consuming 2,500 percent more of them than we did seventy-five years ago-a whopping statistic that applies to no other food, even sugar. Some researchers believe this fact alone accounts for the skyrocketing rates of heart disease and cancer.
Trans fats have now been implicated in cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, diverticulitis, and diabetes, among other diseases. Trans fats also interfere with the reproductive system, producing abnormal sperm and decreasing the amount of cream in human milk. They weaken the immune system and inhibit enzymes that metabolize toxic chemicals, carcinogens, and medications. They decrease the response of cells to insulin, setting the stage for insulin resistance and all the terrible things it brings in its wake, from obesity and diabetes (which are now epidemic in our country) to heart disease.
There are a host of other problems with trans fats. When our body tries to metabolize trans fats, normal biochemistry is blocked and enzymes are inhibited from the natural production of the body's own fatty acids. Trans fats also affect our body's electrical circuitry. The good fats in our diet are necessary for electrical and energy exchanges that involve proteins, oxygen, and light. These electrical currents are responsible for all body functions, from the way our minds work, to our heartbeat, cell division, muscle coordination, and energy levels. Tran's fats are not suitable in these processes and jam the "plug" for the good fats to do their job.
In Denmark, the government has virtually banned partially hydrogenated oil. In 2004, the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to immediately require restaurants to disclose when they use partially hydrogenated oil and to begin the process of eliminating partially hydrogenated oil from the entire food supply. While the FDA rejected the idea of requiring restaurants to disclose the presence of trans fat, New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, and other jurisdictions have set tight limits on the trans-fat content of restaurant foods. Meanwhile, the FDA is continuing to consider CSPI's petition to revoke the legal status of partially hydrogenated oil (the FDA considers that oil to be "generally recognized as safe," even though it and everyone else considers it to be "generally recognized as dangerous."
Before the FDA approved the requirement of listing trans fats on nutrition fact panels, they asked the Institute of Medicine (a branch of the National Academy of Sciences) to prepare a report. Three years later, in July 2002, the institute declared that there is no safe level of trans fats in the diet.
1. Chemical Cuisine, Center for Science in the Public Interest, http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm#phvo
2. McCaffrey, Dee, CDC. Plan-D: The Amazing Anti-Diet That Will Change Your Life Forever. Center For Processed-Free Living, Tempe, AZ, 2009. p. 95-100.
Saccharin, also known as Sweet 'N Low
Saccharin is 350 times sweeter than sugar and is used in diet foods or as a tabletop sugar substitute. Many studies on animals have shown that saccharin can cause cancer of the urinary bladder. In other rodent studies, saccharin has caused cancer of the uterus, ovaries, skin, blood vessels, and other organs. Other studies have shown that saccharin increases the potency of other cancer-causing chemicals. And the best epidemiology study (done by the National Cancer Institute) found that the use of artificial sweeteners (saccharin and cyclamate) was associated with a higher incidence of bladder cancer.
In 1977, the FDA proposed that saccharin be banned, because of studies that it causes cancer in animals. However, Congress intervened and permitted it to be used, provided that foods bear a warning notice.. Once labeled with the carcinogenic stigma, it was thought that it would disappear from the sweetener landscape. However, it persists in the marketplace as a non-caloric alternative to sugar.
In 1997, the diet-food industry began pressuring the U.S. and Canadian governments and the World Health Organization to take saccharin off their lists of cancer-causing chemicals. The industry acknowledges that saccharin causes bladder cancer in male rats, but argues that those tumors are caused by a mechanism that would not occur in humans. Many public health experts respond by stating that, even if that still-unproved mechanism were correct in male rats, saccharin could cause cancer by additional mechanisms and that, in some studies, saccharin has caused bladder cancer in mice and in female rats and other cancers in both rats and mice.
In May 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services removed saccharin from its list of cancer-causing chemicals. Later that year, Congress passed a law removing the warning notice from packaging. The diet food lobbies apparently have a much stronger influence over the regulatory agencies, and that likely will result in increased use in soft drinks and other foods and in a slightly greater incidence of cancer.
1. Chemical Cuisine, Center for Science in the Public Interest, http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm#saccharin
2. Hoza-Farlow, Christine, D.C. Food Additives. A Shopper's Guide to What's Safe and What's Not (KISS For Health Publishing: California, 2004).
3. Reuber, M D., Carcinogenicity of Saccharin, Environmental Health Perspectives, August 1978; 25: 173-200, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1637197/
Sucralose, also known as Splenda
Approved in the United States in 1998, sucralose is used in soft drinks, baked goods, ice cream, sweetener packets, and other products. Sucralose is is often used in conbination with acesulfame-K. The manufacturer of Splenda markets the product as being "natural" because it comes from sugar (sucrose). They are only telling a partial truth.
Although the starting substance is sugar (sucrose), it undergoes a complex 5-step chemical process involving many caustic chemicals which selectively substitutes three atoms of chlorine for three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sucrose molecule. This chemical reaction essentially forces chlorine atoms to form an unnatural bond with the sugar, resulting in a new molecule called Sucralose, marketed under the name Splenda.
The European Food Commission, Canadian health officials, and the U.S. FDA all rejected the initial studies submitted by McNeil Nutritionals, the marketers of sucralose, because studies in rats had indicated that the additive might cause premature shrinkage of the thymus gland, which is part of the immune system. However they encouraged the company to continue researching until they "got it right". McNeil simply lowered the levels of sucralose used in their studies until an acceptable limit was found. After several tries, sucralose was finally approved.
When sucralose was first being considered for approval by the FDA, the Center for Science in the Public Interest objected. However, they later revoked their objection when the subsequent studies showed no problems.
Sucralose does not exist anywhere in nature. It is a patented compound, meaning no one else can make it or sell it. Whereas the starting substance (sucrose) belonged to the class of compounds called sugars, the three chlorine atoms attached to the Sucralose molecule put it into the class of compounds called "polychlorinated compounds." You may be familiar with some other polychlorinated compounds-they're called pesticides! Splenda shares many similar molecular characteristics to pesticides like DDT that can accumulate in the body's fat and tissues. It is impossible to predict the long-term consequences of ingesting this substance over many years.
In her book, Splenda: Is It Safe Or Not? Dr. Janet Starr Hull explains the dangers of Splenda:
Splenda contains chlorine, which is a carcinogen. The Splenda marketers insist it is chemically "bound" so it cannot be "released" in the body during digestion. I question that, and wonder if this artificial chemical can safely pass through the human body. Wait until you read what chlorine can do to the human body. You decide if you want to ingest this chemical.
Sucralose (Splenda) is a chlorocarbon - a chlorine-containing compound. The chlorocarbons have long been known for causing organ, genetic, and reproductive damage. It should be no surprise then, that testing of sucralose revealed organ, genetic, and reproductive damage. Research on lab rats showed up to forty percent shrinkage of the thymus gland, a gland that is the very foundation of our immune system.3
Animal studies also showed sucralose can cause many other problems such as:
- Inflammation and swelling of the liver and kidneys
- Calcification of the kidneys (kidney stones)
- Atrophy of lymph follicles in the spleen and thymus
- Reduced growth rate
- Decreased red blood cell count
- Extension of the pregnancy period
- Aborted pregnancy
- Decreased fetal body weights and placental weights
A study published in the January, 2008 issue of the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health revealed that sucralose, alters gut microflora (good bacteria) and inhibits the assimilation of dietary nutrients.
For these reasons, we believe that sucralose is an additive that should be avoided.
1. Chemical Cuisine, Center for Science in the Public Interest, http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm#sucralose
2. Hoza-Farlow, Christine, D.C. Food Additives. A Shopper's Guide to What's Safe and What's Not (KISS For Health Publishing: California, 2004).
3. McCaffrey, Dee, CDC. Plan-D: The Amazing Anti-Diet That Will Change Your Life Forever. Center For Processed-Free Living, Tempe, AZ, 2009. p. 65-66.
4. Starr-Hull, Janet, Dr. Splenda: Is It Safe or Not? (Texas: The Pickle Press, 2004), 10-11.
Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite
In 1995, a petition was brought before the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting the FDA to require a cancer risk warning on packages of hot dogs that contain preservatives called nitrites. The grounds for this petition were alarming: scientific information on excess risks of childhood brain tumors and leukemia have been linked to the consumption of hot dogs-specifically hot dogs containing nitrite preservatives.
Nitrites, more specifically compounds called Sodium Nitrite and Potassium Nitrite, are chemical preservatives traditionally used in the processing of cooked and smoked deli meats. Their primary purpose is to prevent botulism, and to improve color and flavor in cured meat and poultry products (bologna, hot dogs, bacon).
Nearly all processed meats are made with sodium nitrite: breakfast sausage, hot dogs, jerkies, bacon, lunch meat, and even meats in canned soup products.
You can even purchase sodium nitrate for use in making your own jerky.
During the cooking process, nitrites combine with amines naturally present in the meat to form cancer-forming N-nitroso compounds. When consumers eat sodium nitrite in popular meat products, nitrosamines are formed in the body where they promote the growth of various cancers, including colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and cancer of the oral cavity, urinary bladder, esophagus, stomach and brain.
There is substantial evidence on the risks of childhood cancer from the consumption of meats containing nitrites. A 1982 study found that consumption during pregnancy of meats cured with sodium nitrite has been associated with development of brain tumors in the offspring.
Recent case-control studies have confirmed the risks of cancer from consumption of hot dogs. Eating many hot dogs by children, as well maternal hot dog consumption during pregnancy, has been shown to be associated with brain cancer and leukemia in children.
Numerous other studies performed between 1986 and 1989 on children who were diagnosed with brain cancer showing a correlation to nitrites.
The results linking hot dogs and brain tumors (replicating an earlier study) and the apparent synergism between no vitamins and meat consumption suggest a possible adverse effect of dietary nitrites and nitrosamines."
The carcinogenic effects of nitrites are not limited only to children who eat hot dogs. Research in Sweden found that Swedes who ate on average 3 ounces of processed meat each day had a 15 percent greater chance of developing stomach cancer than those who consumed 2 ounces or less.
The Cancer Research Center of Hawaii and the University of Southern California reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that they studied 190,000 people, ages 45 to 75, for seven years. Those who ate the most processed meat (bacon, ham, cold cuts) had a 68% higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those who ate the least.
The USDA tried to ban sodium nitrite in the 1970's, but was preempted by the meat processing industry, which relies on the ingredient as a color fixer to make foods look more visually appealing. Meat processors responded by saying that since nitrite inhibited the growth of bacteria which caused botulism, the benefits out-weighed the risks.
It is important to know that there are safer ways to inhibit the growth of botulism spores but these alternatives don't improve the color or flavor of meat. The danger of botulism can be checked by proper refrigeration and cooking. Apparently the botulism spores germinate at a slow rate and refrigeration retards this growth. The meat industry concedes this point while quickly pointing out that consumers may not be as careful about refrigeration as it is. Nitrite does not destroy the spores but simply retards their germination. Dr. Ross Hume Hall describes an experiment in which bacon was held at 26 degrees Celsius (80F). The spores did not reach a toxic level (at which botulism poisoning would occur) until the tenth day. If the bacon had been refrigerated, it would have retarded the growth for an even longer period. Hall feels that consumers would agree to have meat marked with throw-away dates rather than laced with nitrites and nitrates.
Expectant mothers should avoid consuming meats that contain sodium nitrite due to the greatly heightened risk of brain tumors in infants. Parents should also be warned to avoid feeding their children products that contain sodium nitrite, including all popular hot dogs, bacon, jerkies, breakfast sausages and pizzas made with pepperoni or other processed meats. Sodium nitrite is especially dangerous to fetuses, infants and children.
There are other reasons to avoid nitrites and nitrates. A 2007 study conducted by Columbia University Medical Center suggests that eating cured meats such as hot dogs, smoked turkey, ham, bologna, bacon, or salami may double your risk for lung disease. Researchers found that people who ate cured meat products at least 14 times a month were 78 percent more likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than people who did not eat these meats, even after the researchers sought to account for many other risk factors including smoking, overall diet, and age.2
COPD is a medical condition that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, which interfere with normal breathing. COPD is also the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States. Nitrate, in the form of either sodium nitrate or potassium nitrate, breaks down in the meat into nitrite. Herein the problem lies: the nitrite further breaks down in the meat into another compound called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide binds to iron in the blood, preventing the iron from being utilized in the body.
Iron is a key component in substances that carry oxygen to the cells and hold it there, such as hemoglobin and myoglobin. This is especially important for the cells in lung tissue. Without adequate hemoglobin and myoglobin, the lungs are deprived of adequate oxygen, which damages lung tissue by cracking elastin and stiffening collagen.
Sodium nitrite is found in literally thousands of different menu items at fast food restaurants and dining establishments. The use of this ingredient is widespread and it's part of the reason we're seeing skyrocketing rates of cancer in every society that consumes large quantities of processed meats.
1. Chemical Cuisine, Center for Science in the Public Interest, http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm#nitrites
2. Dunham, Will. Study Ties Cured Meats to Higher Lung Disease Risk, April 17, 2007, http://www.reuters.com
3. Hot Dogs and Childhood Leukemia, Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XIX, No. 3, Summer 1994, page 3. http://superiorsites3.com/NNS94HotDogsAndLeukemia.htm
4. Hoza-Farlow, Christine, D.C. Food Additives. A Shopper's Guide to What's Safe and What's Not (KISS For Health Publishing: California, 2004).
5. McCaffrey, Dee, CDC. Plan-D: The Amazing Anti-Diet That Will Change Your Life Forever. Center For Processed-Free Living, Tempe, AZ, 2009. p. 120-121.
6. Peters, John M., Susan Preston-Martin, Stephanie J London, Joseph D. Bowman, Jonathan D. Buckley, and Duncan C. Thomas, "Processed Meats and Risk of Childhood Leukemia (California, USA)," Cancer Causes and Control, 5: 195-202, 1994.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium lauryl sulfate is a detergent. Like BHA, BHT, and TBHQ, sodium lauryl sulfate has many different uses, mainly in products that require nice, foaming suds. It is found in cosmetics, shampoos, bubble baths, shaving creams, toothpastes, soaps, dish and laundry detergents, and cleaning products. In higher concentrations it is found in engine degreasers, garage floor cleaners, and car-wash soaps. In foods, it is used as a thickener and a whipping aid in powdered eggs, liquid egg whites, frozen egg whites, and egg white solids. It’s also in the gelatin that is used to make marshmallows, and in an obscure liquid candy called “Candy Bubbles.”
Although sodium lauryl sulfate has been deemed safe by the FDA, studies have shown that it has harmful effects on the body and is a potential cancer risk. However, most of the studies have been done on its use in personal care products, rather than as a food additive.
In a report on the safety of sodium lauryl sulfate, the Journal of the American College of Toxicology (ACT) showed that concentrations as low as 0.5 percent could cause irritation, and concentrations of 10-30 percent caused skin corrosion and severe irritation. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30 percent, which the ACT report called "highly irritating and dangerous." Sodium lauryl sulfate penetrates the skin at even very low levels and damages the proteins in the cell membranes of the skin. Interesingly, sodium lauryl sulfate is used around the world in laboratory clinical studies to induce skin irritation on test animals and humans, so that they may then test healing agents to see how effective they are on the irritated skin.1
The ACT report listed many concerns about sodium lauryl sulfate, namely that cancer-causing compounds called nitrosamines can form during its manufacture. Nitrosamines can also be formed when sodium lauryl sulfate reacts with other compounds being used in the same product containing it. Although sodium lauryl sulfate is not carcinogenic in experimental studies, it has been shown that it causes severe changes in the area of the skin where it is applied, indicating a need for more testing. Other studies have indicated that once sodium lauryl sulfate is absorbed through the skin, it enters the cells of the heart, liver, lungs and brain, and remains there for long periods of time. The ACT report questioned whether sodium lauryl sulfate poses a serious potential health threat from its use in cleansers, shampoos, and toothpastes.2
Because of these concerns and the lack of adequate research, many personal care product companies are choosing not to use sodium lauryl sulfate, and health-conscious consumers are seeking out this safer merchandise.
1. “Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.” Journal of the American College of Toxicology 1983; 2(7).